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From Thailand With Love - Always Thai

From Thailand With Love - Always Thai
By Oshani Silva

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Located in a cosy nook in Aocheng, Always Thai is a relatively new restaurant that boasts of authentic Thai cuisine. Always Thai is the brainchild of Mr. Yu who is a lover of all things Thai. His love affair with Thai food started after his extensive travels to Thailand where its amazing culture and food has been a great source of inspiration since. He has always dreamt of opening up his own place, fulfilling a lack of authentic Thai food in Tianjin.


The menu at Always Thai is quite extensive. It covers most signature Thai dishes. Although it鈥檚 a relatively new restaurant, the food is absolutely delicious. Always Thai has three floors, the upper two are reserved for dining with the lower one comprises of a bar. The atmosphere at the restaurant is cosy and warm, the staff are very friendly and the d茅cor is an ode to Thailand. The tasteful souvenirs and paintings from Thailand that Mr. Yu has collected over his many travels to Thailand add a sense of uniqueness to the surroundings. He has tried to incorporate as many traditional Thai elements as possible. Even the tables are not numbered but named with the different provinces of Thailand.


They have a wide selection of curry dishes ranging from various meats to seafood, specialised fish, prawn and crab dishes, appetisers and much more. They also serve a killer Ton Yum Kung. From the Thai words 鈥淭om鈥, meaning boiled broth, and 鈥淵um鈥, meaning sour and spicy, Tom Yum is often referred to as the national aroma of Thailand. Far from a fussy restaurant style dish, Tom Yum is the very definition of Thai home cooking. On my first visit to Always Thai, their special Tom Yum left me breathless. Each mouthful of the soup, dressed with a dash of chili oil had a knockout punch. It was perfectly spicy while also delivering plenty of chew from the generously strewn prawns and mushrooms. It was a sinus-clearing dish that sent my endorphins into a tizzy.


Another personal favorite is the curried beef. A decadent yellow curry with tender and perfectly cooked beef that melts in the mouth along with chunks of potato. The flavours tingle your taste buds and take you on a culinary trip encapsulating the delicious smells and tastes of the streets of Bangkok. The thick gravy has a smooth creamy texture and is made with Always Thai鈥檚 signature secret spice blends.


The reasons that make Always Thai鈥檚 food so good is its emphasis on fresh and high quality ingredients. The spices and sauces are imported directly from Thailand. As Mr. Yu explains, the dishes are all about celebrating natural flavours - they do not believe in adding any artificial flavours or artificial taste enhancers, insisting on using only the best possible ingredients. The freshness is really highlighted in all the dishes as every dish was amazing and absolutely delicious.


They also have some mouthwatering salads to choose from. If you鈥檙e more of a spice lover, I highly recommend the Green Papaya Salad. This was quite spicy with red chilies and peanuts mixed with the papaya but it culminates in an absolute treat. If you prefer something a little on the sweet side, you could always go for the vegetable salad. The sauce is specially made with ingredients like dragon fruit. The salad combines cherry tomatoes, pineapples, cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers making it a crunchy, delightful treat.


Fried Water Spinach, another dish that is very popular in Thailand, is served at Always Thai as well. This simple dish, comprised of saut茅ed water spinach flavored with garlic and red chili, is a definite must have. Of course the availability of this dish is heavily reliant on the ability to obtain the water spinach, which can be hard given that water spinach favours warmer climates as opposed to Tianjin's severe winter season.


If you are a lover of all things spicy, the restaurant鈥檚 most loved dishes are the Red Curried Chicken, Fried Prawns with Chili Sauce and the Green Papaya Salad. If your palette favours milder dishes, try the Curried Beef, Vietnam Spring Rolls, Mango Chicken, Tom Yum Kung and of course the Vegetable Salad. The Vietnam Spring Rolls, served with sweet sauce imported from Thailand, are crisp and stuffed with a gorgeous medley of vegetables. And, of course, no truly Thai restaurant is complete without Pad Thai. Their Pad Thai is made to the specifications of the customer. If you like your Pad Thai on the spicier side, you can request them to be more generous with the spices. If you like Pad Thai with certain ingredients like just chicken, or just prawns, you can request that too.


The prices at Always Thai are very reasonable. A good filling meal for two with a curry (we chose the beef), steamed rice, Vietnam Spring Rolls and specially imported Thai beer for two will set you back around 60 yuan per head. This combination, as Mr. Yu explains, is very popular with his customers.


If you鈥檙e feeling thirsty after all the delicious dishes, make sure you have the Thai milk with tea. A special blend of tea made with imported Thai milk powder, this was a scintillating thirst quencher.


The Thai trained chefs truly do justice to all the dishes served at the restaurant as each bite leaves you wanting more. Next time you are in the mood for some authentic Thai cuisine, do head over to Aocheng and try out the many dishes on offer.

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